Kane County heading off fatal deer disease

The black death of deer, a chronic wasting disease, has come to Kane County and, along with it, brought associated angst.

Kane County Forest Preserve District officials announced Tuesday a tentative agreement that may ease some of the building tension between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and fans of the local deer population.

Two deer recently tested positive for the disease near the Binnie Forest Preserve in Carpentersville. The brain disease, which kills deer and elk, is 100 percent fatal and has wiped out up to 40 percent of the deer population in states that haven't addressed the situation, Forest Preserve Commissioner Drew Frasz said.

The disease is not known to affect humans.

The discovery of chronic wasting disease prompted state officials to call for the killing of 75 deer, all in the Binnie Forest Preserve, to see how widespread the disease is. The sample size would give the state a good feel for the disease's penetration in the 25-mile area surrounding the forest preserve. The problem for fans of the deer is that killing 75 would nearly wipe out the population, estimated to be about 90, at Binnie.

“The perception of local residents was that the deer population has already been dropping up there,” Frasz said. “So it's been a very contentious issue.”

Frasz and fellow Commissioner T.R. Smith had a meeting with state officials this week and reached a handshake agreement that would at least spread out the impact of the deer that must be killed.

Smith said the plan is for the state to immediately take 40 deer from the Binnie Forest Preserve. Then local hunters and property owners would deliver another 35 for testing off their own private grounds during next fall's hunting season. But Smith said that tentative plan is not well known by the public. The state has requested a meeting with forest preserve commissioners before a public meeting slated for Feb. 25 to discuss the plan.

“Right now, the perception is IDNR wants to do it their way or no way at all,” Smith said. “As far as I'm concerned, they've done a very poor job of public relations on this.”